A panel discussion at Aruba’s Atmosphere event on ‘Customer transformation journey sharing’ centred around how organisations thrive in today’s “work from anywhere”, by transforming their network infrastructure with security at the core. Witnessing the vulnerabilities that the pandemic has introduced to business operations, enterprises are looking to bring the office experience with secure and flexible uninterrupted connectivity to homes.
Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and Traveloka shared their experience, with Justin Chiah, Senior Director, South East Asia, Taiwan and Hong Kong, Aruba moderating the session.
Christopher Lim, Head of Technology Operations, Infrastructure & Cloud, Singapore Press Holdings, said, “SPH has evolved as a company. For us, it’s very clear that we need to have an agile, fast and secure network. Looking at that, we need to keep our customers, our employees exposed to the latest happenings. Accurate information is free — that is the key business narrative as far as Singapore Press Holdings is concerned.”
Christian Henry Wijaya, Head of Corporate IT, Traveloka (Indonesia) said, “We are a technology company, whose aim is to empower people, to help them discover the world around them. We offer a range of services including travel and lifestyle experience in one platform. Right now, our services are spread across Southeast Asia, India and Australia, and it’s still growing. So, it’s very important to have our all infrastructure transformed digitally. This is to support our fast-paced development in the company.”
Battling remote work challenges
Wijaya revealed that even before the pandemic hit, it was focused on digital transformation, and in 2019, the company appointed Aruba to help with those efforts. The introduction of Aruba ClearPass into the infrastructure changed how Traveloka managed things internally, moving from a scattered regime to a better organised network based on centralised network access control.
“This was followed by another networking deal of availing Aruba’s Wi-Fi solutions in 2020 supporting the latest Wi-Fi standards,” said Wijaya.
Lim mentioned that over-reliance on legacy and wired infrastructure at SPH meant that the company was unable to support an increasingly mobile workforce. “If you look at today’s digital workspaces, wireless is the default; wired is the exception. So, we needed a wireless LAN as an essential component. The network must support a greater throughput, support more client density, and reduce network latency – and have granularity of network management”, he said.
SPH adopted Aruba’s Wireless LAN solution to cover over about a hundred and fifty thousand square metres in two offices – in the news center and the print centre. With more than 90 percent of the workforce working from home during the circuit-breaker period, SPH also deployed Aruba’s Remote Access Point (RAP) cloud-managed solution. The publisher also took the opportunity during the pandemic to refresh its network.
When asked about the challenges that Traveloka was grappling with, Wijaya said, “In our own office, we had network stability issues, mainly in the wireless network. I believe it was due to the combination of sub-optimal design and planning, and less-than-excellent support from partner and principal.”
Despite the pandemic, however, Traveloka was able to move to a better headquarters building, which gave a chance for the IT team to resolve those existing issues, in spite of mobility restrictions. The Aruba team conducted a live demonstration in the new Traveloka premises, and the upgrading project was pushed through as planned.
“We are now using Aruba networking solutions for the entire office. With the combination of Aruba’s Mobility Master and ClearPass, it’s easier to manage WiFi security with stronger encryption and authentication methods,” said Wijaya.
When asked about the importance of security, Wijaya answered, “Finding a secure connectivity environment is of course paramount. Being in the travel booking business, securing and protecting our customers’ data must become our priority. In order to do that, we have to first ensure that our employees are working in a safe and secure environment, otherwise, how do we guarantee that the end-user data which we are working on is also safe?”
“Aruba ClearPass has helped all our offices in Southeast Asia manage data in an easier and consistent manner. It helped us identify which devices and who is accessing our network and enforce policies to all of them.”
An ongoing journey
For SPH, digital transformation is a top priority, while it evolves and delves deepering into understanding consumer habits. SPH is transforming the way it delivers news, while creating a digital workspace for the future, to ensure a seamless transition from the office to home environment.
Lim said, “For me, there are three points that we look for in a partnership. One, we look for a partner that is agile, that is reliable, and one we can work with coming from an IT operations perspective. We look for a solution with forward-thinking infrastructure, to be able to give us high performance; and lastly, when it comes to delivery, we look for a partner that has the experience to roll it out and deliver that into business. So, for me, these are the key determinants.”
Wijaya said, “With Aruba solutions, now, we are at a position where we can handle the rapid growth of being a unicorn company in Asia with a secured networking facility infrastructure. This also allows Traveloka to adapt to new market demands, maybe if there is an office expansion, for example, we can keep our core business running and emerge stronger from the disruptions caused by the pandemic.”